My family was on the May 30th Miracle cruise out of NY. My wife and two sons (21 & 23) along with myself. We had a great time and can't believe eight days went by so fast.
Embarkation -- We drove up from the Philadelphia area and arrived about 12:45. I drove up to the area where the porters were so I could drop off my bags and then went back around to park the car. The cost to park was $280 (Cash, Visa or MasterCard accepted). We brought two cases of water and two 12 packs of coke and put luggage tags on them and they arrived at our room with no issue. We walked from the car to the check-in area and there was no wait at all. I walked right up to the desk and within 15 minutes we were on the ship. We went right up to our balcony cabin (7238) and dropped off our carry-on stuff before taking off on a quick tour of the ship and lunch at the Lido buffet.
We did the muster station drill at 3:30 and it was a bit more formal than in years past thanks to the Italian captain who ran his ship into the rocks. I suggest that you wait a few minutes after they call the drill to arrive so you can be in the front of the line because it gets hot on the deck and a few people in the back of the line were complaining about the heat and the crowd of people.
The ship pulled out a few minutes after four and we had a great view of the city on our way down to the Verrazano Bridge.
The first two days were spent taking it easy and trying to find a place to sit in the sun. We tried the serenity area the first day but were too late to get anything but around 2:00 pm we walked by and found one of the hammocks empty so we jumped on and enjoyed a lazy afternoon in the sun. The second day we went up to Serenity at 7:00 am and all the hammocks, clamshells and most of the deck chairs were already taken even though no one was actually sitting in any of them. We grabbed two deck chairs near the back rail and sat in the chairs and watched as others tried to find places to sit and left in frustration. Most of the chairs stayed empty until after 9:00 am and never did I see staff removing stuff placed on the chairs to hold a spot. The main pool areas were the same way. If you go up to deck 10 and 11 you can find chairs and quiet areas to sit in the sun if you like.
One thing that I thought was odd was that there are no chairs of any kind on the promenade deck. I've been on eleven cruises and there are always chairs on the promenade deck, some ships even have shuffleboard on the promenade deck, but for some reason the Miracle had neither. My wife and I took to just sitting on the deck with our backs against the wall. The promenade deck is a great place to go and get away from the crowds and just enjoy looking out at the water. They really should have chairs out there.
Dining -- I'm no food critic and anytime someone else is making food for me I am happy. I can say that I had no issue with any of the meals in the main dining room. Some nights I thought the portion size was a bit small so I just ordered a second meal.
We ate one night at Nick and Nora's Steakhouse and that was an awesome meal. If you get the chance you should eat there at least one night. A group of people we met on the ship ate there four nights!
One thing we did that was awesome was the Chef's Table. There were twelve people at this event and we had a seven course meal served to us by the head chef. It started with a tour of the galley while the first dinner seating was taking place, so we really got a great look at what goes on behind the scenes by all those waiters. The chef served us a few finger type foods during the tour while explaining how things work and then after about thirty minutes he took us to Dr. Frankenstein's club where a table was set-up for the three families who were having dinner. Each time the staff brought out one of the dishes the chef explained what it was and how it was prepared. The entire event took about three and a half hours and we ate like kings. The cost was $75 per person but it was worth the cost if you like this type of thing.
I had breakfast and lunch at the Lido buffet every day and thought the food was very good. One thing I really liked is that you could have something made for you at each station if that's what you wanted. For instance each morning instead of having the scrambled eggs that sit in the warming trays I had an omlette or some type of eggs made for me fresh. At lunch I had a sandwich made at the deli and one day I asked the cook at the Chinese station to make me chicken and broccoli and he made it for me right then. There are a bunch of different stations to choose from so you can always have something different for lunch. Late at night I would go up and have a slice of pizza which is available 24 hours. The pizza isn't the best but it's good enough to quench my hunger late at night. I also liked the hamburgers and hot dogs that you could get out by the pool area.
Entertainment -- I thought the Beatles show was really good along with one or two of the other shows we saw. A couple were pretty bad and we walked out on them. The punchline comedy club was really great. During the cruise we had four different comedians perform and each of them was really good. There were four shows on each of the sea days and each show was different, some were family oriented and others were for adults only. I watched a few of the karaoke shows and the best ones were with the live band. I didn't spend any time in the piano bar or some of the other smaller venues but I heard people say they had excellent performers.
Grand Turk -- I contacted Nathans cart rental and rented two golf carts for $150. We met Nathan at the entrance to the dockyard and he had our two carts ready for us. We drove all around the island and found so many cool little spots that we were all alone. There are so many great beach areas with beautiful blue water and white sand. The island is very small so you can easily go from end-to-end and side-to-side in the time you have on the island. Be aware that you drive on the left side of the road, but there isn't much traffic and the people are very aware of the tourist on the road when they pass you. We spent about four and a half hours traveling around on the carts and believe me; we went to a lot of very secluded places and saw some really beautiful sights. If you get the chance you should contact Nathan and try this (firstname.lastname@example.org)
On our way back to the dockyard we stopped at Jack's Shack and had a few drinks. Great little place just down the beach from the big Margaritaville that is right at the port. I was able to get some local information from the people that work at Jack's which gave me a better understanding of the island and how the people make money. One thing that was really strange about the island while we were driving around was that there are donkey's everywhere you go. They are just walking around on the side of the roads! There are also horses and chickens, but by far, way more donkeys than anything else. I asked the bartender at Jack's about the Donkey's and she said they just roam free but if you hit one, somebody will claim ownership.
Half Moon Cay -- we rented jet skis and a clam shell for our time on the beach. This is really a beautiful island paradise, but honestly I'm not a big lay on the beach kind of guy. My son's thought it was great and stayed in the water to look at all the pretty girls most of the day. I tried to rent a cabana but they were all booked when I tried to get one about a month before the cruise. If you are interested in renting one you should book very early. They had a huge BBQ for us and the food was excellent. My wife and I took a walk along the beach down toward the horse stables but they were really far away once we started walking and we never made it all the way down there. We spent some time in the pirate ship but for the most part we lounged in our clam shell and enjoyed the beautiful view out to sea.
Nassau -- we rented scooters and just drove around the island. The ship warns you about the dangers of riding scooters but that is mostly because they drive on the left side of the road, but if you can handle that difference it's really a great way to see the island. Again, because we were off on our own we were able to see areas where no one else was around and we spent some time on beaches that were empty. Nassau is about three times bigger than Grand Turk so we didn't get to cover the whole island, but we did see a lot more than we would have by going on an excursion run by the ship. We rented the scooters just outside the main building and the guy gave us a great rate because only two other couples rented bikes that day. It was odd, we were the only ship in port that day and I've never been to Nassau when we were the only ship. It was very quiet and low key because so few people were roaming the streets.
This was our first time on the Miracle and we loved the ship. I think it had about 2,300 people on-board so it was far less crowded than some of the bigger ships we've sailed on in the past. The layout was nice because everything was on decks two and three for the most part. You can go all the way to the front on Lido deck and stand above the bridge and get a great view of the sea. I must admit that a few times I felt a little bored during the day. I'm not big on sitting in the sun so I was trying to find things to do and at times had trouble finding things I wanted to do. I love cruising and being bored isn't a bad thing because I just went back to the cabin and sat on the balcony and read a book. Overall it was a wonderful vacation and one I would do again in the future. I would prefer a different itinerary if possible because I am tired of going to Nassau because it seems that every ship I sail on stops there, but other than that it was great.
Debarkation -- They asked us to be out of our room by 8:30 and we stepped off the ship at 10:00. We were in group 10, but I'm not sure how high the numbers went. The self-assist people were let off the ship starting at 8:30 by alternating deck numbers. First decks 1 & 8 went and then a few minutes later 2 & 7 and so on. The normal debarkation started with groups 1, 2 & 3 at about 9:15 and by 10:00 my group was called. We waited on the Lido deck and went down the elevator right to the area we were debarking from in the atrium. All in all a very easy process.
Hope this review helps you get ready for your cruise, I certainly wish I was getting ready to go and not already done with mine. Enjoy your cruise, it goes far too quickly!